From the end of 2019, the influence of Covid 19 has stopped the global flow of people. The tourism industry was particularly influential. In the field of shipping industry, passenger ships business have got big impact. Passenger ships, which were still in active service, had no prospect of reopening, and many operating companies decided to scrap them, avoiding costly long-term stoppages. As a result, many luxury cruisers that were active in the Mediterranean and the Caribbean came to Turkey's ship recycling yards. Having seen such a fact in a newspaper article, I definitely wanted to visit there as a person working for a company that operates many ships. Also, at the same time, as a new business of MOL, we introduced a business to sell Japanese used agricultural machinery to Africa on a cross-border EC site on SNS, I received an inquiry from the person who sells used marine equipment from an Indian ship recycle yards. I thought it was a good idea, so in February 2021, I visited Aliaga, Turkey, where the ship recycling yards are located, for the first time with the aim of exploring its potential. I used to work in India and was interested in the dismantling, but at that time the business started in India was extremely difficult, I could not take time at all, and the visit did not come true, so this was my first visit to ship recycling place.

Here, I would like to introduce Turkey's ship recycling industry. There were ship breaking yards in various parts of Turkey, but in 1974 they were consolidated in Aliaga near Izmir. There are currently 25 recycling yards operating along the approximately 1.5km coastline. The area from the coast is 200 to 400 m, and concrete pavement is used except for the shore line.

Many ships have been demolished in Bangladesh and India. Turkey used to be the 5th largest in the world, but in recent years, the amount of demolishing of China and Pakistan has decreased significantly, and conversely, Turkey has increased and is now the 3rd largest in the world. It seems that the amount is about 10-15% of the total. In 2021, 112 ships were dismantled and about 820,000 tons of iron was recycled.

The dismantling of a ship means to dismantle a ship that is sturdy enough to overcome rough seas, and it is not difficult to imagine that dismantling is not easy job even from its huge size of ship’s body. Ship dismantling was popular in Japan in the past. However, it is rarely done in developed countries now, and most of them are done in India and Bangladesh. The reality of these dismantling yards is unimaginable, and many people are dismantling such huge ships with simple tools, some of them do not even have a helmet and with bare feet, bare hands, and in addition, it is a site where not only adults but also children are working. The ship to be demolished will plunge into the beach at full speed during high tide and will be demolished after the tide has subsided. The cut blocks are chained, pulled by truck or human power, and dropped into the sea. Many workers lose their lives, limbs, etc. due to unexpected parts falling or iron lumps being blown away. There are also harmful substances on the ship, which can flow into the sea and deprive unsuspecting workers of their health. In order to improve such a terrible situation, the Ship Recycling Convention was adopted in 2009, aiming to ensure safety in the demolition yard and to properly dispose of harmful substances. In addition, the European Union has required safe and environmentally friendly recycling of European Union merchant ships in the European Union-approved demolition yard since 2019. Currently, many demolition yards in Turkey are certified as conforming. Turkey used to be in a terrible environment, but now it operates in a controlled manner. Passenger ships, which are being dismantled more and more, are said to have more harmful waste than ordinary commercial ships. If they flow out into the sea, it will lead to environmental destruction. In order to protect the environment, the demolition yard in Turkey has a pipeline connected to a tank for storing waste oil, concrete pavement for processing landed blocks, and an oil fence in case of an oil spill. Waste is sorted and managed according to the rules. In addition, the removal of harmful substances such as asbestos on board is carried out by a trained team of the association, and all disposal is properly handled. The sale of oil left on board is prohibited and will be completely disposed of as industrial waste.

In the specific dismantling work, the ship to be dismantled approaches the shore by herself or is pulled by a tugboat, and finally the bow part is pulled up by the winch on the land side. After that, according to the dismantling plan submitted to the Government, they will gradually cut from the front of the ship. In case of such as tankers, many pipes at the top of the ship should be removed before dismantling the hull. The dismantling is cut into blocks of 5 to 30tons with a burner according to the capacity of the shore crane, and then unloaded by the crane. The landed blocks are further cut with a burner, finally cut into pieces of about 1 square meter in size, transported by truck to a nearby steel mill, and recycled as iron products. In addition, non-ferrous metals such as electric wires are sorted manually. Machineries installed on ships will be sold as second-hand goods as they are, and will be installed in land factories and new ships. Really small parts, tableware and furniture used in the cafeteria will also be on sale. It seems that some lifeboats have been modified to become leisure boats and fishing boats. It was said that 90% of the weight will be recycled.

I said that the number of passenger ships is increasing, but the structure of passenger ships is complicated, and ordinary cargo ships can be dismantled in about 6 months, but passenger ships will take almost a year. In addition, more items and parts such as wood, furniture, kitchen utensils, etc. than commercial ships are recycled.

I wrote that most of the items will be recycled, but although many items which cannot be recycled or reused, such items were displayed in the offices of the recycling yard as decorations. I think that they are not sold because there is no proper selling route. However, many many people have been involved with the ship in her life, but if so, they may be memorable items for them and such items are not  waste items. Also, in Japan, manias of train and aviation are buying the items from retired trains and airplane, so I thought that it might be a coveted item for ship manias, so I decided to sell them. We have posted the products from the ship that was dismantled in the past, but in the future, we are thinking about selling the items collected from the ship that will be dismantled while introducing the history of the ship. Although we have just started service, we want our site to be the "world's largest sales platform for used items from demolished ships" that can accept listings from India and Bangladesh.

MOL is one of the world's largest shipping companies, operating more than 800 vessels worldwide, some of which are chartered by the owner and some of which are owned by us. However, in the end, it was often sold as a used ship, and the current situation was that it was not very involved in the dismantling of the ship. However, as a ship operator, I strongly feel that it is necessary to be involved in the entire life cycle of a ship.

Finally, I would like to conclude this introduction by telling you about the current situation of the shipping industry.

As the population grows, people's lives become richer and the world's trade volume increases. As a result, the number of ships is increasing and the size is increasing. About 30 years ago, 20 million tons of ships were built in a year, but about 20 years ago, it doubled to 40 million tons. Furthermore, it has increased further since 2000, exceeding 100 million tons in 2010, and although it has decreased slightly now, 80 million tons of ships were built in last year.

Considering the life of the ship, the number of ships to be dismantled will be doubled in the future. As I mentioned earlier, scrap sites are carried out in a very harsh environment. The ships that support our lives are currently being dismantled and recycled by people in the world's poorest countries, such as Bangladesh and India, in the face of extreme danger. I want you to remember that our affluent life is made possible with this kind of work.

In addition, Japanese shipping companies are often sold as used ships after about 20 years, and until now we have not been involved in dismantling so much, but from the perspective of the "Sustainable Development Goals" (SDGs),the adopted by the United Nations. it is extremely important to be interested in the dismantling of ships and deepen our involvement.

We shipping companies need to design and build ships and use them for as long as possible, considering when the ship will finish its role. Dismantling a ship that takes into consideration the global environment and the safety and health of the dismantling site is very important for creating a sustainable society. Ship recycling is also extremely important in terms of effective use of resources, and I believe that it is an issue that we should be willing to tackle.

If you are interested in this ship recycling and shipping, please take a look at MOL's service site.

Thank you for visiting us and reading this introductory text.


Satoshi Katada

Managing Director

MOL Turkey Shipping & Logistics Trading Company